Okay, you’ve scrimped and saved, stocked up your pantry instead of taking holidays, done everything you should have done to protect you and your family/group from starvation.
Now the time is here, it has hit the fan, the shops are empty, power is down and you have no idea how long before it comes back. The cause may be known to you, it may not. Anything from EMP to economic collapse, earthquake to pandemic, there is no way we can know, and this is what makes us nervous for the most part. We know something is going to happen, we each have opinions, but we have no definitive indicators at this point what and when.
For those who have a rural location and are practised at living off grid life will continue pretty much as it did prior to the event. For the rest of us life will change beyond recognition. Anything that changes our world to such an extent can rightly be termed TEOTWAWKI,on either a personal or societal level. So, assuming you have not been murdered in your beds by a band of roving, foaming at the mouth zombies, you need to get down to actually deciding how you are going to make what you have last for the maximum amount of time. This is going to be far from easy. Your food supply will run out eventually and if plan A (stored food) misfires before plan B (vegetable garden) is up and running you have what will be death inducing problem.
As with most preparedness issues, planning for something before it happens, when you are calm and thinking straight is far better than planning on the fly when the reverse could well be true. Looking at your bulging pantry may make you feel better now, but just what’s in there? How many meals do you actually have? Do you know what goes with what or are you planning just to pull out what you fancy that day?
Whilst I agree that a little of what you fancy is a great moral booster eating like that day to day will see your stocks diminish far faster than had you planned at least some of your meals. Plain boiled rice will stop you from starving to death but you will not be well after eating nothing but that for a month. Pulling the ‘nice’ stuff from the pantry will result in the bland and the boring getting left behind and ultimately, as your supplies dwindle these items are what you will be left with.
In addition, you need to have a basic idea of the calories required for good health of the people within the group. If you are going to be doing more of the manual work you will need more calories, and more protein for the health and strength of your muscles.
No matter that cousin Bob has always been a big eater, if he is not doing the labour to warrant extra calories, his rations are reduced. Aunt Jane hates what is on the table? Tough, unless she is allergic to the contents she eats what’s served or goes hungry, Her choice.
Catering for differences in taste will see your supplies run out quicker than water down a drain. Meals should be generic and should supply a balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fibre. Additions such as rice and pasta pad out the available proteins, uses the more bland foods as part of a flavoursome meal and prevents you being left with 50lbs of rice and nothing else.
Serving the meals directly onto plates instead of having a pot in the middle of the table also helps to make sure everyone gets their share. The server knows who does what within the group and serves the portions accordingly, this prevents those who are greedy depriving the rest of the group. It is unwise to assume that everyone will act honourably, they won’t.
There are a couple of cheap, easy things you can do to make your meals go further. Soya protein swells up and takes on the taste of the food it is mixed with, you can get it cheaply, even the organic version. A handful or two of this put into any mixed foods, such as soup or stew, ground beef meals or patties or even canned tomato sauce will make the food go further and give otherwise filling but protein short meals a boost.
Chia seeds have a similar effect, but are very expensive in the UK so I have not tried them out myself. They turn into a gel like substance, that when mixed with food cannot be tasted but again bulk up the meal making it go further. They are also vitamin rich, a major plus when most foods will be in short supply.
This may not go down well, but I will not be donating food to individuals or groups post shtf. This is not because I am being nasty in any way, just that I do not feel it is prudent to advertise that I have food to spare. Post collapse nobody except immediate and trusted family will have access to my home or my supplies, and even family will not be allowed to go into my stores or allocate food. I have been telling them for an age to stock up, they have not listened. Should they arrive, it will be done my way or no way. There will be no compromise.
We are all going to be facing a very different reality in the future, as part of a growing number of preppers we are well aware of this, but even within our survival groups, family or other wise, there are going to be issues relating to food and it’s distribution within the group. As with all things related to preparation it is wise to have a plan before you need it. Under normal circumstances we associate food with love and contentment, an enjoyable commodity, something we share with friends and loved ones. When selecting foods to turn into meals for our families we look for flavours, and colours, vitamin rich and protein packed. Although we know we need food to survive, we don’t think of this every time we sit down at the table. In the future we will. Our mindset will change and it will change fast, it will have to if we are to survive.
I have started to experiment with food far more lately, nothing drastic, but padding out what I have with cheap plentiful ingredients like soya protein, dried noodles etc to see just how far I can make what used to be one evening meal stretch. I have started to dehydrate whole meals such as chilli because I can’t afford the freeze dried food available from the large companies. I am trying to think logically but outside of the box in order to get the maximum from what I have, mine and my child’s future depends on me getting it right.
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Contributed by Lizzie Bennett of Underground Medic.
Lizzie Bennett retired from her job as a senior operating department practitioner in the UK earlier this year. Her field was trauma and accident and emergency and she has served on major catastrophe teams around the UK. Lizzie publishes Underground Medic on the topic of preparedness.